Theater & Performing Arts

Romeo and Juliet

When: Thu., May 28, 8 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 4 p.m., Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sat., June 20, 2 p.m. Continues through June 21 2009

The vibrant graffiti wall juxtaposed with a portentous Virgin Mary statue make an apt backdrop for Jonathan Moscone's new staging of Romeo and Juliet. Moscone made the play more accessible by mixing classical and modern elements, including Rihanna's pop-rock song "Shut Up and Drive," which plays during the Capulets' house party, where Romeo first lays eyes on Juliet. Moscone cut about 20 percent of the script for this Cal Shakes production, but did it so elegantly that he didn't adulterate the language or alter the flow. What really makes this play work though are a couple clever casting decisions: namely, the infectious Jud Williford, who gives Mercutio a bit of a frat boy edge, and Catherine Castellanos as the ribald but loveable nurse. These actors add vivacity and comic relief to what's otherwise a very grim-faced tale of woe. Through June 21 at Bruns Amphitheatre (100 Gateway Blvd., Orinda). $20-$63. CalShakes.org


Rachel Swan

Price: $40-$58

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